The new Geography syllabus, which will be taught from September 2017 and examined for the first time in May 2019 begins with a quote from an IB Student from the British School in Rio de Janeiro: ‘Geography is the only subject that has given me the skills to interpret and understand reality in a way I could not imagine before and that will remain for life.’

The new syllabus will be published very soon, and there is a Course Companion to the syllabus and a Study Guide to be published later this year.

The new Paper 1 (replacing the existing paper 2) consists of seven options – Standard Level students study two options and Higher Level students study three options. These are up-dated versions of the exiting options (Freshwater, Oceans, Extreme Environments, Geophysical Hazards, Leisure tourism and sport, Food and health, and Urban environments). The new paper 2 replaces the old Paper 1 and Paper 3. It consists of a Standard Level part (Population distribution – change and possibilities; Global climate – vulnerability and resilience; Global change in resource consumption, security and stewardship) and a Higher Level part, Global interactions (Places, power and networks; Development and diversity; Global risks and resilience).

Check with your teacher to see which Optional themes have been taught in the past for the old current syllabus, and whether your school/college is likely to teach the same Options in the new syllabus.

One of the most important things that an IB student can do is to take an interest in global and national issues/developments. Successful students use current examples in their answers, to illustrate a point or to back up their views. You would do well to look at websites such as the BBC News, The Economist and Al Jazeera to get a range of contemporary case studies – these may well give you a competitive edge over other students. In addition, you should refer to places and events that you know about or are personally involved in. For example, if you live in Rio de Janeiro and are discussing problems about coastal management or urban issues, write about the issues in Rio – do not write about the issues in the text book! You will find that examiners prefer real-life issues rather than just a regurgitation of the text book – that will teach you what is important in using a case study, but develop your own.

Visit the IBO website for details of the current syllabus, it will be updated once the new syllabus is published.